In our modern world it’s easy to take colour for granted. Yet before organic chemistry the most desirable pigments were often exotic or poisonous. Merchants supplied pungent yellow ‘purree’ nuggets from India, cochineal ‘grana’ from the holds of Spanish galleons, lapis rock was carried by camel train from the mountains of Badakhshan. Alchemists prepared deadly ‘King’s Yellow’ and ‘ruby of arsenic’. ‘Moorish Gold’ was concocted, according to a 12th century monk, from basilisk powder ground with human blood! Small wonder artists kept their paint recipes closely guarded in Books of Secrets. Some pigments, such as crimson lakes and indigo were also fabric dyes. Crimson was thought to derive from worms and indigo from the ‘ooze of the Nile’.
Many pigments also had uses as cosmetics and, dubiously efficacious, medicines. Deadly cinnabar was used as lipstick by wealthy Roman ladies, toxic orpiment was applied to the scalp as a hair restorative and caput mortuum, from powdered mummies, was once a general cure-all! This day tells the fascinating stories of alchemy and adventure behind some our most beautiful and colourful paintings.
Lynne is a freelance lecturer in the History of Art, Critical and Contextual Studies, as well as in practical Drawing, Painting and Printmaking. She has held posts at the Universities of Sussex and Bristol, where she introduced 'Understanding Art' to the Lifelong Learning programme. She gives talks, lectures, courses and guided tours for a wide range of organisations including ARCA colleges, Art Galleries and Museums, The Art Fund, The National Trust and The Arts Society.
She has worked as a professional artist specializing in oil painting and etching. Her work has been exhibited widely and used in a range of publications.
Rosemary Dewar on 01608 658549 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Brian will take his audience on a journey beginning in Outer Mongolia in the 5th century BC and following the 11th century migrations from Turkmenistan, the cradle of weaving, into the Caucasus, Persia and Afghanistan. He will introduce the nomadic tribes of these countries with emphasis on their pre-1900 knotted and woven rugs, carpets and dowry bags. These tribal weavings illustrate the skill of these hardy women who produced exquisite works of woven art, using vegetable dyes and age-old symbolic representation whilst living and travelling in primitive conditions and hostile landscapes. With the advent of commercialism and chemical dyes, tribal weaving began a swift decline from the 1930s when it virtually ceased to exist in its spontaneous form.
The tribal weavings of the 19th century and earlier represent the pinnacle of achievement and wonderful free expression of the art of the nomadic weaver. Today, these weavings are highly desirable and collectable works of woven art.
Brian has been dealing in antique and old tribal rugs, dowry weavings and decorative carpets from the Near East and Central Asia since 1979.
From 1972-1977 he lived and worked in Iran, spending the best part of a year amongst two tribal groups, the Afshar of Kerman province and the Qashqa’i of Fars, making him fortunate enough to be one of the few world dealers to have spent time ‘in the field’. He also travelled extensively throughout Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey and in 1990 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society for his work amongst the Persian Tribes. He has returned to Iran several times in recent years, travelling, sourcing and collecting exclusive weavings.
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